Niger or the Niger,[a] officially the Republic of the Niger,[b] is a country in West Africa. It is a unitary state bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin and Burkina Faso to the southwest, Mali to the west, and Algeria to the northwest. It covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2 (490,000 sq mi), making it the largest landlocked country in West Africa and the second largest landlocked nation in Africa behind Chad. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara. Its predominantly Muslim population of about 25 million[14][15] lives mostly in clusters in the south and west of the country. The capital Niamey is located in Niger's southwest corner.

Republic of the Niger
République du Niger (French)
  • "Fraternité, Travail, Progrès" (French)
  • "Fraternity, Work, Progress"
Anthem: L'Honneur de la Patrie (French)
"The Honour of the Fatherland"

Location of Niger (dark green)
Location of Niger (dark green)
and largest city
13°32′N 2°05′E / 13.533°N 2.083°E / 13.533; 2.083
Official languagesFrench
National languages[1]
Ethnic groups
GovernmentUnitary republic under a military junta
Abdourahamane Tchiani[5]
Salifou Modi[6]
Ali Lamine Zeine
LegislatureNational Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland
from France
• Republic proclaimed
18 December 1958
• Declared
3 August 1960
26 July 2023
• Total
1,267,000 km2 (489,000 sq mi) (21st)
• Water (%)
• 2024 estimate
26,342,784[7] (56th)
• Density
12.1/km2 (31.3/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $42.739 billion[8] (144th)
• Per capita
Increase $1,579[8] (188th)
GDP (nominal)2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $17.073 billion[8] (145th)
• Per capita
Increase $630[8] (185th)
Gini (2014)Negative increase 34.0[9]
HDI (2022)Increase 0.394[10]
low (189th)
CurrencyWest African CFA franc (XOF)
Time zoneUTC+1 (WAT)
Driving sideright[11]
Calling code+227
ISO 3166 codeNE

Following the spread of Islam to the region, Niger was on the fringes of some states, including the Kanem–Bornu Empire and the Mali Empire before more significant parts of its territory became included in states such as the Sultanate of Agadez and the Songhai Empire. It was colonized by France during the Scramble for Africa as part of French West Africa, becoming a distinct colony in 1922. Since obtaining independence in 1960, Niger has experienced five coups d'état and four periods of military rule. Niger's seventh and most recent constitution was enacted in 2010, establishing a multiparty, unitary semi-presidential system. Following the most recent coup in 2023, the country is once again under a military junta.

Its society reflects a diversity drawn from the independent histories of some ethnic groups and regions and their period living in a single state. The Hausa are the country's largest ethnic group, making up more than half the population. French is the country's official language, and ten indigenous languages have the status of national language.

According to the UN's Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report of 2023, Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world.[16] Some non-desert portions of the country undergo periodic drought and desertification. The economy is concentrated around subsistence agriculture, with some export agriculture in the less arid south, and the export of raw materials, including uranium ore. It faces challenges to development due to its landlocked position, desert terrain, low literacy rate, jihadist insurgencies, and the world's highest fertility rates due to birth control not being used and the resulting rapid population growth.[17]



The name comes from the Niger River which flows through the west of the country. The origin of the river's name is uncertain. Alexandrian geographer Ptolemy wrote descriptions of the wadi Gir (in neighbouring modern Algeria) and the Ni-Gir 'Lower Gir' to the south, possibly referring to the Niger River.[18] The modern spelling Niger was first recorded by Berber scholar Leo Africanus in 1550,[19] possibly derived from the Tuareg phrase the (e)gărăw-n-gărăwăn meaning 'river of rivers'.[20] There is broad consensus among linguists that it does not derive from the Latin niger 'black' as was first erroneously believed.[18] The standard pronunciation in English is /nˈʒɛər/, while in some Anglophone media /ˈnər/ is also used.




Rock engraving showing herds of giraffe, ibex, and other animals in the southern Sahara near Tiguidit, Niger

Stone tools, some dating as far back as 280,000 BC, have been found in Adrar Bous, Bilma and Djado in the northern Agadez Region.[21] Some of these finds have been linked with the Aterian and Mousterian tool cultures of the Middle Paleolithic period, which flourished in northern Africa circa 90,000 BC–20,000 BC.[22][21] It is thought that these humans lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.[21] During the prehistoric African humid period, the climate of the Sahara was wetter and more fertile, a phenomenon archaeologists refer to as the "Green Sahara", which provided "favourable" conditions for hunting and later agriculture and livestock herding.[23][24]

The Neolithic era, beginning circa 10,000 BC, saw a number of changes such as the introduction of pottery (as evidenced at Tagalagal, Temet and Tin Ouffadene), the spread of cattle husbandry, and the burying of the dead in stone tumuli.[21] As the climate changed in the period 4000–2800 BC the Sahara gradually began drying out, forcing a change in settlement patterns to the south and east.[25] Agriculture spread, including the planting of millet and sorghum, and pottery production.[21] Iron and copper items appear in this era, with finds including those at Azawagh, Takedda, Marendet and the Termit Massif.[26][27][28] The Kiffian (circa 8000–6000 BC) and later Tenerian (circa 5000–2500 BC) cultures, centred on Adrar Bous and Gobero where skeletons have been uncovered, flourished during this period.[29][30][31][32][33]

Societies continued to grow with regional differentiation in agricultural and funerary practices. A culture of this period is the Bura culture (circa 200–1300 AD) named for the Bura archaeological site where a burial replete with iron and ceramic statuettes were discovered.[34] The Neolithic era saw the flourishing of Saharan rock art, including in the Aïr Mountains, Termit Massif, Djado Plateau, Iwelene, Arakao, Tamakon, Tzerzait, Iferouane, Mammanet and Dabous; the art spans the period from 10,000 BC to 100 AD and depicts a range of subjects, from the varied fauna of the landscape to depictions of spear-carrying figures dubbed 'Libyan warriors'.[35][36][37]

Empires and kingdoms in pre-colonial Niger


By at least the 5th century BC the territory of what is now Niger had become an area of trans-Saharan trade. Led by Tuareg tribes from the north, camels were used as a means of transportation through what is later a desert.[38][39] This mobility which would continue in waves for centuries was accompanied with further migration to the south and intermixing between sub-Saharan African and North African populations, and the spread of Islam.[40] It was aided by the Muslim conquest of the Maghreb in the 7th century, the result of three Arab invasions, which resulted in population movements to the south.[25] Empires and kingdoms existed in the Sahel during this era. The following adopts a roughly chronological account of some empires.

Mali Empire (1200s–1400s)


The Mali Empire was a Mandinka empire founded by Sundiata Keita (r. 1230–1255) in c. 1230 and existed until the 1600s. As detailed in the Epic of Sundiata, Mali emerged as a breakaway region of the Sosso Empire which itself had split from the earlier Ghana Empire. Thereafter Mali defeated the Sosso at the Battle of Kirina in 1235 and then Ghana in 1240.[41][42] From its heartland around the later Guinea-Mali border region, the empire expanded under successive kings and came to dominate the Trans-Saharan trade routes, reaching its greatest extent during the rule of Mansa Musa (r. 1312–1337).[citation needed] At this point parts of what are now Niger's Tillabéri Region fell under Malian rule.[41] A Muslim, Mansa Musa performed the hajj in 1324–25 and encouraged the spread of Islam in the empire, and it "appears that most ordinary citizens continued to maintain their traditional animist beliefs instead of or alongside the new religion".[41][43] The empire began "declining" in the 15th century due to a combination of internecine strife over the royal succession, weak kings, the shift of European trade routes to the coast, and rebellions in the empire's periphery by Mossi, Wolof, Tuareg and Songhai peoples.[43] A rump Mali kingdom continued to exist until the 1600s.[citation needed]

Songhai Empire (1000s–1591)

Map of the Songhai Empire, overlaid over modern boundaries

The Songhai Empire was named for its main ethnic group, the Songhai or Sonrai, and was centred on the bend of the Niger River in Mali. Songhai began settling this region from the 7th to 9th centuries;[citation needed] by the 11th century Gao (capital of the former Kingdom of Gao) had become the empire's capital.[44][45] From 1000 to 1325, the Songhai Empire managed to maintain peace with the Mali Empire, its neighbour to the west. In 1325 Songhai was conquered by Mali until regaining its independence in 1375.[citation needed] Under king Sonni Ali (r. 1464–1492) Songhai adopted an expansionist policy which reached its apogee during the reign of Askia Mohammad I (r. 1493–1528); at this point the empire had expanded from its Niger-bend heartland, including to the east where most of later western Niger fell under its rule, including Agadez which was conquered in 1496.[21][46][47] The empire was unable to withstand repeated attacks from the Saadi dynasty of Morocco and was decisively defeated at the Battle of Tondibi in 1591; it then collapsed into a number of smaller kingdoms.[45]

Sultanate of Aïr (1400s–1906)

The Grand Mosque of Agadez

In c. 1449 in the north of what is now Niger, the Sultanate of Aïr was founded by Sultan Ilisawan, based in Agadez.[21] Formerly a trading post inhabited by a mixture of Hausa and Tuaregs, it grew as a strategic position on the Trans-Saharan trade routes. In 1515, Aïr was conquered by Songhai, remaining a part of that empire until its collapse in 1591.[21][40] In the following centuries, it "seems that the sultanate entered a decline" marked by internecine wars and clan conflicts.[40] When Europeans began exploring the region in the 19th century, most of Agadez lay in ruins and was taken over by the French (see below).[21][40]

Kanem–Bornu Empire (700s–1700s)


To the east, the Kanem–Bornu Empire dominated the region around Lake Chad for a period.[45] It was founded by the Zaghawa around the 8th century and based in Njimi, north-east of the lake. The kingdom gradually expanded, including during the rule of the Sayfawa dynasty which began in c. 1075 under Mai (king) Hummay.[48][49] The kingdom reached its greatest extent in the 1200s, partly due to the effort of Mai Dunama Dibbalemi (r. 1210–1259), and grew "richer" from its control of some Trans-Saharan trade routes; most of eastern and south-eastern Niger, including Bilma and Kaouar, was under Kanem's control in this period.[50] Islam had been introduced to the kingdom by Arab traders from the 11th century, gaining more converts over the following centuries.[48] Attacks by the Bulala people in the 14th century forced Kanem to shift westwards of Lake Chad where it became known as the Bornu Empire ruled from its capital Ngazargamu on what is later the Niger-Nigeria border.[51][48][52] Bornu "prospered" during the rule of Mai Idris Alooma (r. circa 1575–1610) and re-conquered most of the "traditional lands" of Kanem, hence the designation 'Kanem–Bornu' for the empire. By the 17th century and into the 18th the Bornu kingdom had entered a "period of decline", shrinking back to its Lake Chad heartland.[45][48]

Circa 1730–40 a group of Kanuri settlers led by Mallam Yunus left Kanem and founded the Sultanate of Damagaram, centred on the town of Zinder.[40] The sultanate remained nominally subject to the Borno Empire until the reign of Sultan Tanimoune Dan Souleymane in the 19th century, who declared independence and initiated a phase of expansion.[21] The sultanate managed to resist the advance of the Sokoto Caliphate (see below), and was later captured by the French in 1899.[21]

The Hausa states and other smaller kingdoms (1400s–1800s)

Overlooking the town of Zinder and the Sultan's Palace from the French fort (1906). The arrival of the French spelled an end for precolonial states like the Sultanate of Damagaram which carried on only as ceremonial "chiefs" appointed by the colonial government.

Between the Niger River and Lake Chad lay Hausa Kingdoms, encompassing the cultural-linguistic area known as Hausaland which straddles what later became the Niger-Nigeria border.[53] The Hausa are thought to be a mixture of autochthonous peoples and migrant peoples from the north and east, emerging as a distinct people sometime in the 900s–1400s when the kingdoms were founded.[53][21][54] They gradually adopted Islam from the 14th century, and sometimes this existed alongside other religions, developing into syncretic forms; some Hausa groups such as the Azna resisted Islam altogether (the area of Dogondoutchi remains an animist stronghold).[21][45] The Hausa kingdoms were not a compact entity but several federations of kingdoms more or less independent of one other. Their organisation was hierarchical and somewhat democratic: the Hausa kings were elected by the notables of the country and could be removed by them.[44] The Hausa Kingdoms began as seven states founded, according to the Bayajidda legend, by the six sons of Bawo.[53][45] Bawo was the only son of the Hausa queen Daurama and Bayajidda or (Abu Yazid according to certain historians) who came from Baghdad. The seven original Hausa states (also referred to as the 'Hausa bakwai') were: Daura (state of queen Daurama), Kano, Rano, Zaria, Gobir, Katsina and Biram.[44][21][54] An extension of the legend states that Bawo had a further seven sons with a concubine, who went on to found the so-called 'Banza (illegitimate) Bakwai': Zamfara, Kebbi, Nupe, Gwari, Yauri, Ilorin and Kwararafa.[54] A smaller state not fitting into this scheme was Konni, centred on Birni-N'Konni.[40]

Comparison of Africa in the years 1880 and 1913

The Fulani (also called Peul, Fulbe etc.), a pastoral people found throughout the Sahel, began migrating to Hausaland during the 1200s–1500s.[45][53] During the later 18th century some Fulani were unhappy with the syncretic form of Islam practised there; exploiting also the populace's disdain with corruption amongst the Hausa elite, the Fulani scholar Usman Dan Fodio (from Gobir) declared a jihad in 1804.[40][21][55] After conquering most of Hausaland (though not the Bornu Kingdom, which remained independent), he proclaimed the Sokoto Caliphate in 1809.[53] Some of the Hausa states survived by fleeing south, such as the Katsina who moved to Maradi in the south of what later became Niger.[45] Some of these surviving states harassed the Caliphate and a period of wars and skirmishes commenced, with some states (such as Katsina and Gobir) maintaining independence whereas elsewhere newer ones were formed (such as the Sultanate of Tessaoua). The Caliphate managed to survive until, "fatally weakened" by the invasions of Chad-based warlord Rabih az-Zubayr, it finally fell to the British in 1903, with its lands later being partitioned between Britain and France.[56]

Other smaller kingdoms of the period include the Dosso Kingdom, a Zarma polity founded in 1750, which resisted the rule of Hausa and Sokoto states.[40]

Colonial (1900–1958)

French West Africa in 1949

In the 19th century, some European explorers travelled in the area that would become known as Niger, such as Mungo Park (in 1805–1806), the Oudney-Denham-Clapperton expedition (1822–25), Heinrich Barth (1850–55 with James Richardson and Adolf Overweg), Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs (1865–1867), Gustav Nachtigal (1869–1874) and Parfait-Louis Monteil (1890–1892).[21]

Some European countries already possessed coastal colonies in Africa, and in the latter half of the century they began to turn their eyes towards the interior of the continent. This process, known as the 'Scramble for Africa', culminated in the 1885 Berlin conference in which the colonial powers outlined the division of Africa into spheres of influence. As a result of this, France gained control of the upper valley of the Niger River (roughly equivalent to the present territory of Mali and Niger).[57] France then set about making a reality of their rule on the ground. In 1897, the French officer Marius Gabriel Cazemajou was sent to Niger. He reached the Sultanate of Damagaram in 1898, and stayed in Zinder at the court of Sultan Amadou Kouran Daga. He was later killed, as Daga feared he would ally with the Chad-based warlord Rabih az-Zubayr.[40] In 1899–1900, France coordinated three expeditions—the Gentil Mission from French Congo, the Foureau-Lamy Mission from Algeria and the Voulet–Chanoine Mission from Timbuktu—with the aim of linking France's African possessions.[57] The three eventually met at Kousséri (in the far north of Cameroon) and defeated Rabih az-Zubayr's forces at the Battle of Kousséri. The Voulet-Chanoine Mission was "marred by atrocities", and "became notorious" for pillaging, looting, raping and killing local civilians on its passage throughout southern Niger.[40][21] On 8 May 1899, in retaliation for the resistance of queen Sarraounia, captain Voulet and his men murdered all the inhabitants of the village of Birni-N'Konni in what is regarded as "one of the worst massacres in French colonial history".[40] The "brutal" methods of Voulet and Chanoine caused a "scandal" and Paris was forced to intervene; when Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-François Klobb caught up with the mission near Tessaoua to relieve them of command he was killed. Lt. Paul Joalland, Klobb's former officer, and Lt. Octave Meynier eventually took over the mission following a mutiny in which Voulet and Chanoine were killed.[21] The Military Territory of Niger was subsequently created within the Upper Senegal and Niger colony (later Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger) in December 1904 with its capital at Niamey.[21] The border with Britain's colony of Nigeria to the south was finalised in 1910, a rough delimitation having already been agreed by the two powers via treaties during the period 1898–1906.[57] The capital of the territory was moved to Zinder in 1912 when the Niger Military Territory was split off from Upper Senegal and Niger, before being moved back to Niamey in 1922 when Niger became a fully fledged colony within French West Africa.[21][40] The borders of Niger were drawn up in stages and had been fixed at their later position by the 1930s. Territorial adjustments took place in this period: the areas west of the Niger river were attached to Niger in 1926–1927, and during the dissolution of Upper Volta (modern Burkina Faso) in 1932–1947 most of the east of that territory was added to Niger;[58][40] and in the east the Tibesti Mountains were transferred to Chad in 1931.[59]

The French generally adopted a form of indirect rule, allowing existing native structures to continue to exist within the colonial framework of governance providing that they acknowledged French supremacy.[21] The Zarma of the Dosso Kingdom in particular proved amenable to French rule, using them as allies against the encroachments of Hausa and other nearby states; over time the Zarma thus became one of the "more educated and westernised" groups in Niger.[40] Perceived threats to French rule, such as the Kobkitanda rebellion in Dosso Region (1905–1906), led by the blind cleric Alfa Saibou, and the Karma revolt in the Niger valley (December 1905 – March 1906) led by Oumarou Karma were suppressed with force, as were the latter Hamallayya and Hauka religious movements.[21][40][60] While "largely successful" in subduing the "sedentary" populations of the south, the French faced "considerably more difficulty" with the Tuareg in the north (centered on the Sultanate of Aïr in Agadez), and France was unable to occupy Agadez until 1906.[21] Tuareg resistance continued, culminating in the Kaocen revolt of 1916–1917, led by Ag Mohammed Wau Teguidda Kaocen, with backing from the Senussi in Fezzan; the revolt was violently suppressed and Kaocen fled to Fezzan where he was later killed.[40] A puppet sultan was set up by the French and the "decline and marginalisation" of the north of the colony continued, exacerbated by a series of droughts.[40] While it remained "something of a backwater", some limited economic development took place in Niger during the colonial years, such as the introduction of groundnut cultivation.[21] Measures to improve food security following a series of devastating famines in 1913, 1920, and 1931 were introduced.[21][40]

During the Second World War, during which time mainland France was occupied by Nazi Germany, Charles de Gaulle issued the Brazzaville Declaration, declaring that the French colonial empire would be replaced post-war with a less centralised French Union.[61] The French Union, which lasted from 1946 to 1958, conferred a limited form of French citizenship on the inhabitants of the colonies, with some decentralisation of power and limited participation in political life for local advisory assemblies. It was during this period that the Nigerien Progressive Party (Parti Progressiste Nigérien, or PPN, originally a branch of the African Democratic Rally, or Rassemblement Démocratique Africain – RDA) was formed under the leadership of former teacher Hamani Diori, as was the left-wing Mouvement Socialiste Africain-Sawaba (MSA), led by Djibo Bakary. Following the Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre) of 23 July 1956 and the establishment of the Fifth French Republic on 4 December 1958, Niger became an autonomous state within the French Community. On 18 December 1958, an autonomous Republic of Niger was officially created under the leadership of Hamani Diori. MSA was banned in 1959 for its perceived excessive anti-French stance.[62] On 11 July 1960, Niger decided to leave the French Community and acquired full independence at midnight, local time, on 3 August 1960;[63] Diori thus became the first president of the country.

Post-colonial (1960–)


Diori years (1960–1974)

President Hamani Diori and visiting German President Heinrich Lübke greet crowds on a state visit to Niamey, 1969. Diori's single party rule was characterised by "good" relations with the West and a preoccupation with foreign affairs.

For its first 14 years as an independent state, Niger was run by a single-party civilian regime under the presidency of Hamani Diori.[64] The 1960s saw an expansion of the education system and some limited economic development and industrialisation.[40] Links with France remained, with Diori allowing the development of French-led uranium mining in Arlit and supporting France in the Algerian War.[40] Relations with other African states were mostly "positive", with the exception of Dahomey (Benin), owing to a border dispute. Niger remained a one-party state throughout this period, with Diori surviving a planned coup in 1963 and an assassination attempt in 1965; most of this activity was masterminded by Djibo Bakary's MSA-Sawaba group which had launched an abortive rebellion in 1964.[40][65] In the 1970s, a combination of economic difficulties, droughts and accusations of rampant corruption and mismanagement of food supplies resulted in a coup d'état that overthrew the Diori regime.

First military regime (1974–1991)


The coup had been masterminded by Col. Seyni Kountché and a military group under the name of the Conseil Militaire Supreme, with Kountché going on to rule the country until his death in 1987.[40] The first action of the military government was to address the food crisis.[66] Whilst political prisoners of the Diori regime were released after the coup, political and individual freedoms in general deteriorated during this period. There were attempted coups (in 1975, 1976 and 1984) which were thwarted, their instigators being punished.[40]

President Seyni Kountché during the state visit of West German President Karl Carstens to Niger in 1983

Kountché sought to create a 'development society', funded mostly by the uranium mines in Agadez Region.[40] Parastatal companies were created, infrastructure (building and new roads, schools, health centres) constructed, and there was corruption in government agencies, which Kountché did not hesitate to punish.[67] In the 1980s, Kountché began cautiously loosening the grip of the military, with some relaxation of state censorship and attempts made to 'civilianise' the regime.[40] The economic boom ended following the collapse in uranium prices, and IMF-led austerity and privatisation measures provoked opposition by some Nigeriens.[40] In 1985, a Tuareg revolt in Tchintabaraden was suppressed.[40] Kountché died in November 1987 from a brain tumour, and was succeeded by his chief of staff, Col. Ali Saibou who was confirmed as Chief of the Supreme Military Council four days later.[40]

Saibou curtailed the most repressive aspects of the Kountché era (such as the secret police and media censorship), and set about introducing a process of political reform under the overall direction of a single party (the Mouvement National pour la Société du Développement, or MNSD).[40] A Second Republic was declared and a new constitution was drawn up, which was adopted following a referendum in 1989.[40] General Saibou became the first president of the Second Republic after winning the presidential election on 10 December 1989.[68]

President Saibou's efforts to control political reforms failed in the face of trade union and student demands to institute a multi-party democratic system. On 9 February 1990, a violently repressed student march in Niamey led to the death of three students, which led to increased national and international pressure for further democratic reform.[40] The Saibou regime acquiesced to these demands by the end of 1990.[40] Meanwhile, trouble re-emerged in Agadez Region when a group of armed Tuaregs attacked the town of Tchintabaraden (seen by some as the start of the first Tuareg Rebellion), prompting a military crackdown which led to deaths (the precise numbers are disputed, with estimates ranging from 70 to up to 1,000).[40]

Ali Saibou, President 1987–93, helped oversee the transition from military to civilian rule

National Conference and Third Republic (1991–1996)


The National Sovereign Conference of 1991 brought about multi-party democracy. From 29 July to 3 November, a national conference gathered together all elements of society to make recommendations for the future direction of the country. The conference was presided over by Prof. André Salifou and developed a plan for a transitional government; this was then installed in November 1991 to manage the affairs of state until the institutions of the Third Republic were put into place in April 1993. After the National Sovereign Conference, the transitional government drafted a constitution that eliminated the previous single-party system of the 1989 Constitution and guaranteed more freedoms. The new constitution was adopted by a referendum on 26 December 1992.[69] Following this, presidential elections were held and Mahamane Ousmane became the first president of the Third Republic on 27 March 1993.[40][68] Ousmane's presidency saw four government changes and legislative elections in 1995, and an economic slump.[40]

The violence in Agadez Region continued during this period, prompting the Nigerien government to sign a truce with Tuareg rebels in 1992 which was ineffective owing to internal dissension within the Tuareg ranks.[40] Another rebellion, led by dissatisfied Toubou peoples claiming that, like the Tuareg, the Nigerien government had neglected their region, broke out in the east of the country.[40] In April 1995 a peace deal with a Tuareg rebel group was signed, with the government agreeing to absorb some former rebels into the military and, with French assistance, help others return to a productive civilian life.[70]

Second and third military regimes (1996–1999)


The governmental paralysis prompted the military to intervene; on 27 January 1996, Col. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara led a coup that deposed President Ousmane and ended the Third Republic.[71][72] Maïnassara headed a Conseil de Salut National (National Salvation Council) composed of military officials which carried out a six-month transition period, during which a constitution was drafted and adopted on 12 May 1996.[40]

Presidential campaigns were organised in the months that followed. Maïnassara entered the campaign as an independent candidate and won the election on 8 July 1996, the elections were viewed nationally and internationally by some as irregular, as the electoral commission was replaced during the campaign.[40] Meanwhile, Maïnassara instigated an IMF and World Bank-approved privatisation programme which enriched some of his supporters and were opposed by the trade unions.[40] Following fraudulent local elections in 1999 the opposition ceased any cooperation with the Maïnassara regime.[40] In unknown circumstances (possibly attempting to flee the country), Maïnassara was assassinated at Niamey Airport on 9 April 1999.[73][74]

Maj. Daouda Malam Wanké then took over, establishing a transitional National Reconciliation Council to oversee the drafting of a constitution with a French-style semi-presidential system. This was adopted on 9 August 1999 and was followed by presidential and legislative elections in October and November of the same year.[75] The elections were generally found to be free and fair by international observers. Wanké then withdrew from governmental affairs.[40]

Fifth Republic (1999–2009)

A Tuareg rebel fighter in northern Niger during the Second Tuareg Rebellion, 2008

After winning the election in November 1999, President Tandja Mamadou was sworn into office on 22 December 1999 as the first president of the Fifth Republic. Mamadou brought about administrative and economic reforms that had been halted due to the military coups since the Third Republic, and helped peacefully resolve a decades-long boundary dispute with Benin.[76][77] In August 2002, unrest within military camps occurred in Niamey, Diffa, and Nguigmi, and the government was able to restore order within days. On 24 July 2004, municipal elections were held to elect local representatives, previously appointed by the government. These elections were followed by presidential elections, in which Mamadou was re-elected for a second term, thus becoming the first president of the republic to win consecutive elections without being deposed by military coups.[40][78] The legislative and executive configuration remained somewhat similar to that of the first term of the president: Hama Amadou was reappointed as prime minister and Mahamane Ousmane, the head of the CDS party, was re-elected as the president of the National Assembly (parliament) by his peers.

By 2007, the relationship between President Tandja Mamadou and his prime minister had "deteriorated", leading to the replacement of the latter in June 2007 by Seyni Oumarou following a successful vote of no confidence at the Assembly.[40] President Tandja Mamadou sought to extend his presidency by modifying the constitution which limited presidential terms. Proponents of the extended presidency, who rallied behind the 'Tazartche' (Hausa for 'overstay') movement, were countered by opponents ('anti-Tazartche') composed of opposition party militants and civil society activists.[40]

The north saw the outbreak of a Second Tuareg Rebellion in 2007 led by the Mouvement des Nigériens pour la justice (MNJ). With a number of kidnappings the rebellion had "largely fizzled out inconclusively" by 2009.[40] The "poor" security situation in the region is thought to have allowed elements of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to gain a foothold in the country.[40]

Sixth republic and fourth military regime (2009–2010)


In 2009, President Tandja Mamadou decided to organize a constitutional referendum seeking to extend his presidency, which was opposed by other political parties, and went against the decision of the Constitutional Court which had ruled that the referendum would be unconstitutional. Mamadou then modified and adopted a new constitution by referendum, which was declared illegal by the Constitutional Court, prompting Mamadou to dissolve the Court and assume emergency powers.[79][80] The opposition boycotted the referendum and the constitution was adopted with 92.5% of voters and a 68% turnout, according to official results. The adoption of the constitution created a Sixth Republic, with a presidential system, the suspension of the 1999 Constitution, and a three-year interim government with Tandja Mamadou as president. The events generated political and social unrest.[40]

In a coup d'état in February 2010, a military junta led by Salou Djibo was established in response to Tandja's attempted extension of his political term.[81] The Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy, headed by Djibo, carried out a one-year transition plan, drafted a constitution and held elections in 2011.

Seventh Republic (2010–2023)

Semi-arid Niger is threatened by further desertification.

Following the adoption of a constitution in 2010 and presidential elections a year later, Mahamadou Issoufou was elected as the first president of the Seventh Republic; he was then re-elected in 2016.[82][40] The constitution restored the semi-presidential system which had been abolished a year earlier. An attempted coup against him in 2011 was thwarted and its ringleaders arrested.[83] Issoufou's time in office was marked by threats to the country's security, stemming from the fallout from the Libyan Civil War and Northern Mali conflict, an insurgency in western Niger by al-Qaeda and Islamic State, the spillover of Nigeria's Boko Haram insurgency into south-eastern Niger, and the use of Niger as a transit country for migrants (often organised by people-smuggling gangs).[84] French and American forces assisted Niger in countering these threats.[85]

On 27 December 2020, Nigeriens went to the polls after Issoufou announced he would step down, paving the way to a peaceful transition of power.[86] No candidate won an absolute majority in the vote: Mohamed Bazoum came closest with 39.33%. Per the constitution, a run-off election was held on 20 February 2021, with Bazoum taking 55.75% of the vote and opposition candidate (and former president) Mahamane Ousmane taking 44.25%, according to the electoral commission.[87]

On 31 March 2021, Niger's security forces thwarted an attempted coup by a military unit in the capital, Niamey. Gunfire was heard in the presidential palace. The attack took place two days before newly elected president Mohamed Bazoum was due to be sworn into office. The Presidential Guard arrested some people during the incident.[88] On 2 April 2021, Bazoum was sworn in as the President of Niger.[89]

Fifth military regime (2023–present)


Late on 26 July 2023, a coup by the military overthrew Bazoum, putting an end to the Seventh Republic and the government of Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou.[90] On 28 July, General Abdourahamane Tchiani was proclaimed as the de facto head of state of the country.[91] Former finance minister Ali Lamine Zeine was declared the new Prime Minister of Niger.[92]

The coup was condemned by ECOWAS, which in the 2023 Nigerien crisis threatened to use military intervention to reinstate the government of Bazoum if the coup leaders did not by 6 August.[93] The deadline passed without military intervention, though ECOWAS imposed sanctions, including cuts of Nigerian energy exports to Niger which had previously provided 70–90% of Niger's power.[94][95] In November the coup-led governments of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger formed the Alliance of Sahel States in opposition to potential military intervention.[96] On 24 February 2024 several ECOWAS sanctions against Niger were dropped, reportedly for humanitarian and diplomatic reasons,[97] and Nigeria agreed to resume electricity exports to Niger.[97][94]

In the buildup to the August ECOWAS deadline, the junta requested help from the Russian Wagner Group,[98] though Wagner mercenaries were not known to have entered the country as a result.[citation needed] In October the junta expelled French troops from the country, presenting the move as a step towards sovereignty from the former colonial power,[99] and in December it suspended cooperation with the Francophonie alleging its promotion of French interests.[100] UN resident coordinator Louise Aubin was also expelled in October after the junta alleged "underhanded maneuvers" by U.N secretary-general António Guterres to prevent the country's participation in the UN General Assembly.[99] In October the U.S. officially designated the takeover as a coup, suspending most Niger–US military cooperation as well as hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign assistance programs.[101] In April 2024, Russian military trainers and equipment began to arrive in Niger under a new military agreement,[102] and the US agreed to withdraw troops from Niger[103] following the termination of a Niger–US agreement that had allowed US personnel to be stationed in the country.[104]


A map of Niger
Satellite image of Niger

Niger is a landlocked nation in West Africa located along the border between the Sahara and Sub-Saharan regions. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east.

Niger lies between latitudes 11° and 24°N, and longitudes and 16°E. Its area is 1,267,000 square kilometres (489,191 sq mi) of which 300 square kilometres (116 sq mi) is water. This makes it less than twice the size of France, and the world's 21st largest country.[105]

Niger borders seven countries and has a total perimeter of 5,697 kilometres (3,540 mi). The longest border is with Nigeria to the south (1,497 km or 930 mi). This is followed by Chad to the east, at 1,175 km (730 mi), Algeria to the north-northwest (956 km or 594 mi), and Mali at 821 km (510 mi). Niger has borders in its further southwest with Burkina Faso at 628 km (390 mi) and Benin at 266 km (165 mi) and to the north-northeast Libya at 354 km (220 mi).

The lowest point in Niger is the Niger River, with an elevation of 200 metres (656 ft). The highest point is Mont Idoukal-n-Taghès in the Aïr Mountains at 2,022 m (6,634 ft).

Niger's terrain is predominantly desert plains and sand dunes, with flat to rolling savanna in the south and hills in the north.


Map of Köppen climate classification

The hotter and drier climate within desert areas causes more frequent fires in some regions.[106] In the south, there is a tropical climate on the edges of the Niger River basin.


An elephant in the W National Park

The territory of Niger contains five terrestrial ecoregions: Sahelian Acacia savanna, West Sudanian savanna, Lake Chad flooded savanna, South Saharan steppe and woodlands, and West Saharan montane xeric woodlands.[107]

The north is covered by deserts and semi-deserts. The typical mammal fauna consists of addax antelopes, scimitar-horned oryx, gazelles, and in the mountains, Barbary sheep. The Aïr and Ténéré National Nature Reserve was founded in the northern parts to protect these species.

The southern parts are naturally dominated savannahs. The W National Park, situated in the bordering area to Burkina Faso and Benin, belongs to "one of the most important areas" for wildlife in Western Africa, which is called the WAP (W–ArliPendjari) Complex. It has a population of the West African lion and one of the last populations of the Northwest African cheetah.

Other wildlife includes elephants, buffaloes, roan antelopes, kob antelopes and warthogs. The West African giraffe is found in the further north where it has its last relict population.

Environmental issues include destructive farming practices as a result of population pressure, illegal hunting, bush fires in some areas and human encroachment upon the flood plains of the Niger River for paddy cultivation. Dams constructed on the Niger River in the neighboring countries of Mali and Guinea and within Niger are cited as a reason for a reduction of water flow in the Niger River—which has a direct effect upon the environment. A "lack of adequate staff" to guard wildlife in the parks and reserves is another factor cited for loss of wildlife.[108]

Farmer-managed natural regeneration is practiced since 1983 to increase food and timber production, and resilience to climate extremes.[109]

Governance and politics

President Mahamadou Issoufou and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in October 2019

Niger's new constitution was approved on 31 October 2010. It restored the semi-presidential system of government of the 1999 constitution (Fifth Republic) in which the president of the republic, elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term, and a prime minister named by the president share executive power.

On 26 May 2009, President Tandja dissolved parliament after the country's constitutional court ruled against plans to hold a referendum on whether to allow him a third term in office. According to the constitution, a new parliament was elected within three months.[110] This began a political struggle between Tandja, trying to extend his term-limited authority beyond 2009 through the establishment of a Sixth Republic, and his opponents who demanded that he step down at the end of his second term in December 2009. See 2009 Nigerien constitutional crisis. The military took over the country and President Tandja was put in prison, charged with corruption.

The military kept their promise to return the country to democratic civilian rule. A constitutional referendum and national elections were held. A presidential election was held on 31 January 2011, but as no clear winner emerged, run-off elections were held on 12 March 2011. Mahamadou Issoufou of the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism was elected president. A parliamentary election was held at the same time.[111][112][113]

Foreign relations


Niger pursues a moderate foreign policy and maintains friendly relations with the West and the Islamic world as well as non-aligned countries. It belongs to the UN and its main specialized agencies and in 1980–81 served on the UN Security Council. Niger maintains a special relationship with former colonial power France and has close relations with its West African neighbors.

Niger is a charter member of the African Union and the West African Monetary Union and also belongs to the Niger Basin Authority and Lake Chad Basin Commission, the Economic Community of West African States, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). The westernmost regions of Niger are joined with contiguous regions of Mali and Burkina Faso under the Liptako–Gourma Authority.

The border dispute with Benin, inherited from colonial times and concerning inter alia Lété Island in the Niger River, was solved by the International Court of Justice in 2005 to Niger's advantage.


Soldiers from the 322nd Parachute Regiment practice field tactics with the U.S. Army, 2007

The Niger Armed Forces (Forces armées nigériennes) are the military and paramilitary forces of Niger, under the president as supreme commander. They consist of the Niger Army (Armée de Terre), the Niger Air Force (Armée de l'Air) and the auxiliary paramilitary forces, such as the National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie nationale) and the National Guard (Garde nationale). Both paramilitary forces are trained in military fashion and have some military responsibilities in wartime. In peace time their duties are mostly policing duties.

The armed forces are composed of approximately 12,900 personnel, including 3,700 gendarmes, 3,200 national guards, 300 air force personnel, and 6,000 army personnel. The armed forces of Niger have been involved in several military coups over the years with the most recent in 2023.[114] Niger's armed forces have a long history of military cooperation with France and the United States. From 2013, Niamey was home to a U.S. drone base. On 16 March 2024, Niger's government announced that it was breaking off "with immediate effect" its military cooperation agreement with the United States.[115]

Judicial system


The current Judiciary of Niger was established with the creation of the Fourth Republic in 1999. The constitution of December 1992 was revised by national referendum on 12 May 1996 and, again, by referendum, revised to the current version on 18 July 1999. It is based on the Code Napoleon "Inquisitorial system", established in Niger during French colonial rule and the 1960 Constitution of Niger. The Court of Appeals reviews questions of fact and law, while the Supreme Court reviews application of the law and constitutional questions. The High Court of Justice (HCJ) deals with cases involving senior government officials. The justice system also includes civil criminal courts, customary courts, traditional mediation, and a military court.[116] The military court provides the same rights as civil criminal courts; however, customary courts do not. The military court cannot try civilians.[117]

Law enforcement


Law enforcement in Niger is the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense through the National Gendarmerie and the Ministry of the Interior through the National Police and the National Guard. The National Police is primarily responsible for law enforcement in urban areas. Outside big cities and in rural areas, this responsibility falls on the National Gendarmerie and the National Guard.

Government finance


Government finance is derived from revenue exports (mining, oil and agricultural exports) as well as various forms of taxes collected by the government. In the past, foreign aid has contributed to large percentages of the budget. In 2013, Niger's government has adopted a zero-deficit budget of 1.279 trillion CFA francs ($2.53 billion) which is claimed to balance revenues and expenditures by an 11% reduction in the budget from the previous year.[118]

The 2014 budget was 1.867 trillion CFA which is distributed as follows according to: public debt (76,703,692,000 CFA), personnel expenditures (210,979,633,960 CFA), operating expenditures (128,988,777,711 CFA); subsidies and transfers (308,379,641,366 CFA) and investment (1,142,513,658,712 CFA).[119]

Foreign aid


The importance of external support for Niger's development is demonstrated by the fact that about 45% of the government's FY 2002 budget, including 80% of its capital budget, derives from donor resources.[120] The most important donors in Niger are France, the European Union, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and various United Nations agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, FAO, World Food Program, and United Nations Population Fund).

Other principal donors include the United States, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and Saudi Arabia.[citation needed] While USAID does not have an office in Niger, the United States is a major donor, contributing nearly $10 million each year to Niger's development.[citation needed] The U.S. also is a major partner in policy coordination in such areas as food security and HIV/AIDS.[citation needed]

Administrative divisions

Administrative divisions of Niger

Niger is divided into 7 Regions and one capital district. These Regions are subdivided into 36 departments. The 36 Departments are currently broken down into Communes of varying types. As of 2006 there were 265 communes, including communes urbaines (Urban Communes: as subdivisions of major cities), communes rurales (Rural Communes), in sparsely populated areas and postes administratifs (Administrative Posts) for largely uninhabited desert areas or military zones.

Rural communes may contain official villages and settlements, while Urban Communes are divided into quarters. Niger subvisions were renamed in 2002, in the implementation of a decentralisation project, first begun in 1998. Previously, Niger was divided into 7 Departments, 36 Arrondissements, and Communes. These subdivisions were administered by officials appointed by the national government. These offices will be replaced in the future by democratically elected councils at each level.

The pre-2002 departments (renamed as regions) and capital district are:

Largest cities and towns

Largest cities or towns in Niger
According to the 2012 Census[121]
Rank Name Region Pop.
1 Niamey Niamey 978,029  
2 Maradi Maradi 267,249
3 Zinder Zinder 235,605
4 Tahoua Tahoua 117,826
5 Agadez Agadez 110,497
6 Arlit Agadez 78,651
7 Birni-N'Konni Tahoua 63,169
8 Dosso Dosso 58,671
9 Gaya Dosso 45,465
10 Tessaoua Maradi 43,409


A proportional representation of Niger exports, 2019

The economy of Niger centers on subsistence crops, livestock, and some of the world's largest uranium deposits. In 2021, Niger was the main supplier of uranium to the EU, followed by Kazakhstan and Russia.[122] Drought cycles, desertification, a 2.9% population growth rate, and the drop in world demand for uranium have undercut the economy.

Two trans-African automobile routes pass through Niger:

Niger shares a common currency, the CFA franc, and a common central bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), with seven other members of the West African Monetary Union. Niger is also a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).[123]

In December 2000, Niger qualified for enhanced debt relief under the International Monetary Fund program for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and concluded an agreement with the Fund for Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). Debt relief provided under the enhanced HIPC initiative significantly reduces Niger's annual debt service obligations, freeing funds for expenditures on basic health care, primary education, HIV/AIDS prevention, rural infrastructure, and other programs geared at poverty reduction.

In December 2005, it was announced that Niger had received 100% multilateral debt relief from the IMF, which translates into the forgiveness of approximately US$86 million in debts to the IMF, excluding the remaining assistance under HIPC. Nearly half of the government's budget is derived from foreign donor resources. Future growth may be sustained by the exploitation of oil, gold, coal, and other mineral resources. Uranium prices have recovered somewhat in the last few years.[when?] A drought and locust infestation in 2005 led to food shortages for as many as 2.5 million Nigeriens.[citation needed]

Niger was ranked 131st in the Global Innovation Index in 2023.[124]


Population age pyramid of Niger in 2020
Wodaabe women with traditional facial tattoos

As of 2021, the population of Niger was 25,252,722.[14][15] Niger's population has rapidly increased from its population of 3.4 million in 1960 and has a current growth rate of 3.3% (7.1 children per mother).[125][126]

This growth rate is one of the highest in the world and is a source of concern for the government and international agencies.[127] The population is predominantly young, with 49.2% under 15 years old and 2.7% over 65 years, and predominantly rural with only 21% living in urban areas.[125]

A 2005 study[which?] stated that over 800,000 people (nearly 8% of the population) in Niger are enslaved.[128][129][130]

Urban settlements

Cities of Niger
Rank City Population Region
2001 Census[131] 2012 Census[131]
1. Niamey 690,286 978,029 Niamey
2. Maradi 148,017 267,249 Maradi Region
3. Zinder 170,575 235,605 Zinder Region
4. Tahoua 73,002 117,826 Tahoua Region
5. Agadez 77,060 110,497 Agadez Region
6. Arlit 68,835 78,651 Agadez Region
7. Birni N'Konni 44,663 63,169 Tahoua Region
8. Dosso 43,561 58,671 Dosso Region
9. Gaya 28,385 45,465 Dosso Region
10. Tessaoua 31,667 43,409 Maradi Region

Ethnic groups

Ethnic Groups in Niger (2001 Census)[132]
Ethnic Groups percent
Zarma & Songhai

As in most West African countries, Niger has a wide variety of ethnic groups. The ethnic makeup of Niger in 2001 was as follows: Hausa (55.4%), Zarma & Songhay (21%), Tuareg (9.3%), Fula (French: Peuls; Fula: Fulɓe) (8.5%), Kanuri Manga (4.7%), Tubu (0.4%), Arab (0.4%), Gourmantche (0.4%), other (0.1%).[125] The Zarma and Songhay dominate the Dosso, Tillabéri, and Niamey regions, the Hausa dominate the Zinder, Maradi, and Tahoua regions, Kanuri Manga dominate the Diffa region, and Tuaregs dominate the Agadez region in Northern Niger.[132]



French, inherited from the colonial period, is the official language. It is taught in school as a second language and serves as the administrative language. Niger joined the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie in 1970,[citation needed] though it suspended cooperation with the group months after the 2023 coup.[100]

Niger has ten recognized national languages, namely Arabic, Buduma, Fulfulde, Gourmanchéma, Hausa, Kanuri, Zarma and Songhay, Tamasheq, Tassawaq and Tebu.[1] Each is spoken as a first language primarily by the ethnic group with which it is associated.[133][134] Hausa and Zarma-Songhai, the two most spoken languages, are widely spoken throughout the country as first or second languages.


Religion in Niger
religion percent[3]

Niger is a secular country and separation of state and religion is guaranteed by Articles 3 and 175 of the 2010 Constitution, which dictate that future amendments or revisions may not modify the secular nature of the republic of Niger. Religious freedom is protected by Article 30 of the same constitution. Islam, widespread in the region since the 10th century, has greatly shaped the culture and mores of the people of Niger. Islam is the most dominant religion, practiced by 99.3% of the population according to the 2012 census.[3]

The other two main religions of Niger are Christianity, practiced by 0.3% of the population, and Animism (traditional indigenous religious beliefs), practiced by 0.2% of the population.[3] Christianity was established earlier in the country by missionaries during the French colonial years. Other urban Christian expatriate communities from Europe and West Africa are also present. Religious persecution has flared in recent years in Niger; Christian charity Open Doors now lists Niger as the 37th most difficult country in which to be a Christian on their World Watch List, 'reflecting how pressure is increasing on Christians in this [...] nation.'[135] Relations between Muslims and Christians have generally been cordial, according to the respective representatives of Christian and Muslim groups in Niger.[136]

Worshipers leaving the grand mosque of Kiota after Friday prayers

The numbers of Animist practitioners are a point of contention. As recently as the late 19th century, much of the south center of the nation was unreached by Islam, and the conversion of some rural areas has been only partial. There are still areas where animist based festivals and traditions (such as the Bori religion) are practiced by syncretic Muslim communities (in some Hausa areas as well as among some Toubou and Wodaabe pastoralists), as opposed to several small communities who maintain their pre-Islamic religion. These include the Hausa-speaking Maouri (or Azna, the Hausa word for "pagan") community in Dogondoutci in the south-southwest and the Kanuri speaking Manga near Zinder, both of whom practice variations of the pre-Islamic Hausa Maguzawa religion. There are also some tiny Boudouma and Songhay animist communities in the southwest.[137] Over the past decade, syncretic practices have become less common among Muslim Nigerien communities.[136]



The majority of Muslims in Niger are Sunni, 7% are Shi'a, 5% are Ahmadiyya and 20% non-denominational.[138][139] Islam was spread into what is now Niger beginning in the 15th century, by both the expansion of the Songhai Empire in the west, and the influence of the Trans-Saharan trade traveling from the Maghreb and Egypt. Tuareg expansion from the north, culminating in their seizure of the far eastern oases from the Kanem–Bornu Empire in the 17th centuries, spread distinctively Berber practices.[citation needed]

Small mosque in Filingué

Both Zarma and Hausa areas were greatly influenced by the 18th- and 19th-century Fula-led Sufi brotherhoods, most notably the Sokoto Caliphate (in today's Nigeria). Modern Muslim practice in Niger is often tied to the Tijaniya Sufi brotherhoods, although there are small minority groups tied to Hammallism and Nyassist Sufi orders in the west, and the Sanusiya in the far northeast.[137]

A small center of followers of Salafi movement within Sunni Islam have appeared in the last thirty years, in the capital and in Maradi.[140] These small groups, linked to similar groups in Jos, Nigeria, came to public prominence in the 1990s during a series of religious riots.[141][142]

Despite this, Niger maintains a tradition as a secular state, protected by law.[143] Interfaith relations are deemed very good, and the forms of Islam traditionally practiced in most of the country are marked by tolerance of other faiths and lack of restrictions on personal freedom.[144] Alcohol, such as the locally produced Bière Niger, is sold openly in most of the country.


A primary classroom in Niger

The literacy rate of Niger is among the lowest in the world; in 2005 it was estimated to be only 28.7% (42.9% male and 15.1% female).[145] Primary education in Niger is compulsory for six years.[146] The primary school enrollment and attendance rates are low, particularly for girls.[146] In 1997, the gross primary enrollment rate was 29.3 percent, and in 1996, the net primary enrollment rate was 24.5 percent.[146]

About 60 percent of children who finish primary schools are boys, as the majority of girls rarely attend school for more than a few years.[146] Children are often forced to work rather than attend school, particularly during planting or harvest periods.[146] Nomadic children in the north of the country often do not have access to schools.[146]



The child mortality rate in Niger (deaths among children between the ages of 1 and 4) is high (248 per 1,000) due to generally poor health conditions and inadequate nutrition for most of the country's children. According to the organization Save the Children, Niger has the world's highest infant mortality rate.[147]

Maradi Reference Hospital

Niger also has the highest fertility rate in the world (6.49 births per woman according to 2017 estimates);[148] this has resulted in nearly half (49.7%) of the Nigerien population being under age 15 in 2020.[149] Niger has the 11th highest maternal mortality rate in the world at 820 deaths/100,000 live births.[150] There were 3 physicians and 22 nurses per 100,000 persons in 2006.[151]

Clean drinking water is scarce by global standards, with significant differences between urban and rural areas. Niger is located at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index. Roughly 92% of the population lives in rural areas in the Tillabéri region along the western frontier, and there is a chronic scarcity of clean water, particularly during the hot season, when temperatures regularly exceed 40 degrees Celsius.[152][153][154]

Just 40% of the 30,000 inhabitants in Téra, a city northwest of the country's capital of Niamey and near to the Burkina Faso border, have access to a working public water infrastructure.[152][155][156] Société de Patrimoine des Eaux du Niger (SPEN), Niger's water authority, opened ten boreholes and built a water treatment plant in 2018 to provide potable water to Téra and the surrounding areas. The water supply ran out about a year later, and the water treatment facility was forced to close.[152][157]

With the help of a donation fund from the Dutch government, the European Investment Bank is collaborating with the Niger water authority to find solutions to Niger's water issues. The World Bank identified Niger as one of the 18 fragile regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. The EU bank has a history of investing in regions like these.[158]

The European Investment Bank and the Niger Water Authority are looking at two options for dealing with Téra's water shortages. The first choice is to repair the water tank on the outskirts of town. Another choice is to treat and transport water from the Niger River, which is located more than 100 kilometres to the east. Villages between Téra and the Niger River will also have access to sewage. The European Investment Bank will also look at renewable energy as a way to save costs.[158]


Sultan of Damagaram in the Hausa city of Zinder. The Sultanate continues to operate in a ceremonial function into the 21st century.
Toubou musicians at a formal ceremony

Nigerien culture is marked by variation, evidence of the cultural crossroads which French colonialism formed into a unified state from the beginning of the 20th century. What is now Niger was created from four distinct cultural areas in the pre-colonial era: the Zarma and Songhai dominated the Niger River valley in the southwest; the northern periphery of Hausaland, made mostly of those states which had resisted the Sokoto Caliphate, and ranged along the long southern border with Nigeria; the Lake Chad basin and Kaouar in the far east, populated by Kanuri farmers and Toubou pastoralists who had once been part of the Kanem–Bornu Empire; and the Tuareg nomads of the Aïr Mountains and the Sahara in the vast north.

Each of these communities, along with smaller ethnic groups like the pastoral Wodaabe Fula, brought their own cultural traditions to the new state of Niger. While successive post-independence governments have tried to forge a shared national culture, this has been slow forming, in part because the major Nigerien communities have their own cultural histories, and in part because Nigerien ethnic groups such as the Hausa, Tuareg and Kanuri are but part of larger ethnic communities which cross borders introduced under colonialism.

Until the 1990s, government and politics was inordinately dominated by Niamey and the Zarma people of the surrounding region. At the same time the plurality of the population, in the Hausa borderlands between Birni-N'Konni and Maine-Soroa, have often looked culturally more to Hausaland in Nigeria than Niamey. Between 1996 and 2003, primary school attendance was around 30%,[159] including 36% of males and only 25% of females. Additional education occurs through madrasas.

Festivals and cultural events


Guérewol festival

Participants in the Guérewol perform the Guérewol dance, 1997.

The Guérewol festival is a traditional Wodaabe cultural event that takes place in Abalak in Tahoua region or In'Gall in Agadez Region. It is an annual traditional courtship ritual practiced by the Wodaabe (Fula) people of Niger. During this ceremony, young men dressed in elaborate ornamentation and made up in traditional face painting gather in lines to dance and sing, vying for the attention of marriageable young women. The Guérewol festival is an international attraction and was featured in films and magazines as prominent as the National Geographic.

Cure Salée festival


"La Cure salée" (English: Salt Cure) is a yearly festival of Tuareg and Wodaabe nomads in In'Gall in Agadez Region traditionally to celebrate the end of the rainy season. For three days, the festival features a parade of Tuareg camel riders followed with camel and horse races, songs, dances, and storytelling.



Niger began developing diverse media in the late 1990s. Prior to the Third Republic, Nigeriens only had access to tightly controlled state media.[160] Now Niamey contains scores of newspapers and magazines; some, like Le Sahel, are government operated, while many are critical of the government.[161][162] Radio is the most important medium, as television sets are beyond the buying power of many of the rural poor, and illiteracy prevents print media from becoming a mass medium.[108]

In addition to the national and regional radio services of the state broadcaster ORTN, there are four privately owned radio networks which total more than 100 stations. Three of them—the Anfani Group, Sarounia and Tenere—are urban-based commercial-format FM networks in the major towns.[163] There is also a network of over 80 community radio stations spread across all seven regions of the country, governed by the Comité de Pilotage de Radios de Proximité (CPRP), a civil society organisation. The independent-sector radio networks are collectively estimated by CPRP officials to cover some 7.6 million people, or about 73% of the population (2005).

Aside from Nigerien radio stations, the BBC's Hausa service is listened to on FM repeaters across wide parts of the country, particularly in the south, close to the border with Nigeria. Radio France Internationale also rebroadcasts in French through some of the commercial stations, via satellite. Tenere FM also runs a national independent television station of the same name.[163]

Despite relative freedom at the national level, Nigerien journalists say they are often pressured by local authorities.[164] The state ORTN network depends financially on the government, partly through a surcharge on electricity bills, and partly through direct subsidy. The sector is governed by the Conseil Supérieur de Communications, established as an independent body in the early 1990s, since 2007 headed by Daouda Diallo. International human rights groups have criticised the government since at least 1996 as using regulation and police to punish criticism of the state.[165][166]

See also



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  2. ^ "Africa: Niger – The World Factbook – Central Intelligence Agency". 27 April 2021. Archived from the original on 30 March 2021. Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d Institut national de la statistique (November 2015). "Recensement général de la population et de l'habitat 2012" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 July 2018. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
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  5. ^ "Niger general Tchiani named head of transitional government after coup". Al Jazeera. 28 July 2023. Archived from the original on 28 July 2023. Retrieved 29 July 2023.
  6. ^ Sidonie Aurore Bonny (3 August 2023). "Niger junta appoints civilians to Cabinet, member of military as vice president". Anadolu Agency. Douala, Cameroon. Archived from the original on 10 August 2023. Retrieved 6 August 2023. Gen. Salifou Modi, Bazoum's former army chief of staff and the ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, is now vice president of the junta.
  7. ^ "Niger". The World Factbook (2024 ed.). Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 22 June 2023.
  8. ^ a b c d "World Economic Outlook Database, October 2023 Edition. (Niger)". International Monetary Fund. 10 October 2023. Archived from the original on 19 October 2023. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
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  10. ^ "Human Development Report 2023/24" (PDF). United Nations Development Programme. 13 March 2024. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 March 2024. Retrieved 13 March 2024.
  11. ^ Which side of the road do they drive on? Archived 14 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine Brian Lucas. August 2005. Retrieved 28 January 2009.
  12. ^ How Do You Pronounce "Niger"? Archived 14 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine from, retrieved 4 March 2012
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  1. ^ /nˈʒɛər, ˈnər/ nee-ZHAIR, NY-jər,[12][13] French: [niʒɛʁ]; Arabic: النيجر; Fula: Niiser; Hausa: Nijar
  2. ^ French: République du Niger, Hausa: Jamhuriyar Nijar


  • Decalo, Samuel. Historical Dictionary of Niger, 3rd ed. (Scarecrow Press, 1997, ISBN 0-8108-3136-8) – a comprehensive collection of Niger topics
  • CIA World Factbook (entry on Niger Archived 30 March 2021 at the Wayback Machine)
  • US State Department "Niger". 3 February 2010. Archived from the original on 22 January 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2010. Note: This article contains material from the State Department website.
  • Unicef Niger statistics Archived 30 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  • Unesco manuscript on child work and schooling in Niger


  • 2012 Niger Trade Summary Statistics Archived 7 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine

16°N 8°E / 16°N 8°E / 16; 8